The link between Fast Food and Sugar and the Pending Collapse of Civilization: Part 2 of 2

October 7, 2015

I’ve talked to enough Chinese to know that it’s a commonly held opinion that if the average American eats and raises children a certain way and the U.S. is  the world’s only super power, then if the Chinese eat and act the same way, China will become a super power like the U.S.

This flawed belief may explain what my friend (in Part 1) wrote about the spoiled children of China’s middle class being “WAY fatter” and with a sense of entitlement.

It might also explain the exploding popularity of American fast food in China leading to an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer, which is parallel to what has happened and is still happening in the U.S. and the UK.

To see if the United States and China are showing signs of an impending collapse, I checked Wikipedia’s Fall of Civilizations where a summary of the opinions of twelve experts are available.

Here’s what three of the experts have to say:

  • Edward Gibbons in The Decline of the Roman Empire wrote, “The decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay…”
  • Arnold J. Toynbee in his A study of History wrote, “The cause of the fall of a civilization occurred when the cultural elite became a parasitic elite.”
  • Jeffrey A. McNeely suggested, “A review of historical evidence shows that past civilizations have tended to over-exploit their forests and that such abuse of important resources has been a significant factor in the decline of the over-exploiting society.”

After reading what all twelve experts said about the collapse of civilizations, it was obvious that there may be several causes that bring on a collapse.

However, when three of the twelve experts all have different opinions and all three of those opinions are happening in America and starting to happen in China, I think that is a good reason to be concerned.

One thing we can be sure of, lobbyists from the fast food and sugar industries will find a few so-called experts to disagree—a lot.

Return to or start with Part 1.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

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Diving Deep into China with Isham Cook “At The Teahouse Café”

September 8, 2015

At The Teahouse Cafe, 15 essays by Isham Cook, delves into East Asian Culture and a number of related issues and topics.

Isham Cook has been based in China since 1994, more than twenty years. Writing with the perspective of an American expatriate who has lived in East Asia that long offers readers a view from someone on the ground, and I think that Cook does not disappoint.

The topics of his 15 essay range, for instance, from China’s Great Firewall, the complexity and meaning of Chinese “face”, music, China’s education system to the aversive racism of the term “yellow fever”—something that I’ve also been accused of. Cook goes into detail of why men are attracted to specific women of any race, and I think he is right.

And for his essay on The Chinese University, I Hi-Lited: “The problem with the Chinese university is not the people, it is the system in control, which paralyzes, demotivates and demoralizes.”

The reason why I Hi-Lited that one phrase while reading the book was because it described what is happening in the United States. Since 2001 and President G. W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, and then President Obama’s attempt to seize control of America’s public schools with the so-called Common Core State Standards and the high stakes test meant to rank teachers, fire them and close public schools, that quote describes what is happening in the U.S.

Isham Cook At The Teahouse Cafe

You have been gone too long, Isham. The U.S is under attack by a flock of oligarchs and autocrats that might even shock or impress the Chinese Communist Party because of their tactics to mislead and fool as many people as possible in the U.S. In fact, while China is struggling to lift as many of its people out of poverty as possible, what’s going on in the U.S. is increasing poverty at a frightening pace, especially among children.

Anyway, Isham Cook delves deep into many topics about China, it’s culture and people based on his own experiences living there and interacting with the Chinese. He discusses the bad and the good and doesn’t spare the United States either, and I think that is a good thing because far too many ignorant Americans think the U.S. can do no wrong.

My own interaction with the Chinese pales in comparison. My wife is Chinese, her family is Chinese—mostly born and raised in China during the Mao era—and I’ve been to China nine or 10 times but never lived or worked there, and my last trip was in 2008 when the air pollution in Shanghai contributed to a sinus and respiratory infection that sent me flying home several weeks earlier than planned to recover.

I recommend At The Teahouse Cafe for anyone who wants to get a serious, intellectual dose of the real China from an American who has lived and worked there as long as Isham Cook has. This book should open your eyes as long as your thinking isn’t a closed, dead-end street.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

#1 - Joanna Daneman review posted June 19 2014

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Are all Chinese Parents Tigers with their Children?

June 2, 2015

It’s been more than four years since Amy Chua’s memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother launched a vicious tsunami of words that swept across the United States. Critics judged the book largely by asking the following questions: Should self-esteem come before accomplishment, or accomplishment before self-esteem? The logical answer, I think, is that a child’s self-esteem must develop naturally and organically and not through the efforts of helicopter parents pressuring teachers to dumb down the curriculum and inflate grades.

The bad news is that helicopter parenting might be getting worse if Psychology is right.

About the same time that Chua’s memoir came out, research into parenting styles revealed that “almost 49% of the European-American parents used authoritative parenting (alleged to be the best parenting style), as did about 46% of the Asian-American parents. Both groups revealed about the same number of parents using authoritarian (Tiger Mom-style) parenting (23% for European-Americans, and 26% for Asian-Americans). In other words, the number using authoritative parenting was virtually the same for both groups. – Psychology

In addition, Pew reported “Fully 94% of parents say it is important to teach children responsibility, while nearly as many (92%) say the same about hard work. Helpfulness, good manners and independence also are widely viewed as important for children to learn, according to the survey.”

But work by Eva Pomerantz suggests that Chinese mothers think differently. They think “my child is my report card,” and they see the academic success of their children as a chief parenting goal. But the reasons why a particular type of parenting works in one cultural group may not translate to another cultural group, partly because parenting goals are different in different groups.

In early 2011, we went to see Amy Chua in Berkeley when she was on tour for her memoir. The room was packed with several hundred people and there was standing room only due to all the controversial attention the book was getting.

At the times, I thought that Amy Chua looked as if she were expecting an eighteen-wheeler to crash through the wall and flatten her. That is probably because I’d read that she’d received death threats from across the U.S. for revealing in her memoir that she had said NO to activities such as sleepovers, play dates, acting in school plays, and did not allow her daughters to watch endless hours of TV and/or play computer games like so many American parents do.

Imagine getting assassinated, not by your child but by a stranger, because you wouldn’t let your kid have a sleepover.

To many, Chua did the unthinkable and demanded excellence. Time magazine said, “Most surprising of all to Chua’s detractors may be the fact that many (but not all) elements of her approach are supported by research in psychology and cognitive science.”

And as Amy Chua sat in that tall chair on stage above the audience with her feet dangling a foot from the floor, the audience laughed, applauded and treated her as if she were a hero—not someone to condemn or shun.

In the Time magazine piece, Chua said, “I know some Korean, Indian, Jamaican, Irish and Ghanaian parents who qualify too. The tiger-mother approach isn’t an ethnicity but a philosophy: expect the best from your children, and don’t settle for anything less.”

The American Psychological Association defines tiger parents as those who practice positive and negative parenting strategies simultaneously. Tiger parents are engaging in some positive parenting behaviors; however, unlike supportive parents, tiger parents also scored high on negative parenting dimensions. This means that their positive parenting strategies co-exist with negative parenting strategies.

Tiger parents and harsh parents are alike, in that both use negative parenting strategies. Unlike tiger parents, however, harsh parents do not engage in positive parenting strategies. Easygoing parents have a more hands-off approach, and do not engage as much with their children, either positively or negatively.

Another study out of the University of Michigan comparing U.S. and Chinese public school systems discovered parental involvement is a critical component to a child’s educational experience. If a child’s parents value education, then the child is more likely to value school as well. In China, parental involvement is higher than compared to the US, because Chinese parents accept the critical role of helping their students to learn concepts if they are lagging behind in school. Chinese parents also make sure that their children complete their homework. Parents in the U.S. typically play a more passive role in the education of their children. … It was also proven that greater involvement in a child’s education fosters more positive attitudes toward school, can improve homework habits, increase academic success and can reduce dropout rates.

What parenting style did your parents use on you? My parents were mostly hands off and that might explain why I barely made it through high school, but I did much better in college after the Marines applied their harsh methods of discipline.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

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Comparing Cultural Wars: the U.S. versus China

April 4, 2015

In 1965, China’s Mao Zedong launched a cultural war against the excesses of capitalism, and this was led by the people, the workers and their children, and the capitalists in China and anyone who was accused of supporting the lifestyle of the rich and famous was targeted leading to millions of suicides.

For the last few decades, millions of people in the United States have been victims of its own cultural war, but this one is the reverse of the one that was led by Mao in China. America’s cultural war is being led by a handful of billionaire oligarchs who are transforming American into a money making paradise for those who have the most wealth and power.

This morning I read a piece in the Huffington Post that reported Kansas welfare recipients will be unable to get more than $25 per day in benefits under a new law sent this week to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s desk by the state legislature. To make life worse for people who live in poverty, the state also issues that welfare in the form of a government-issued debit card and required that they take the money out of debit machines that charge 85 cents for each withdrawal after the first one in a month—a windfall for banks and whoever owns those ATM machines but less money to buy food. The number of Kansans receiving benefits has also declined from 38,000 in 2011 to 15,000 last year, state data show.

It is no secret that Republicans (GOP) have waged war on people who live in poverty for decades—and recently GOP representatives have blamed poverty on the poor. Many in the GOP hate Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare, unemployment insurance, food stamps, abortion, marijuana, women, and even sexual orientation.

In addition, the GOP and the Democrats also have no problem handing out money to private sector corporations. For instance, the U.S. auto industry, banks, and Wall Street firms. In fact, there are elements in both parties who are handing our children to corporate Charters supported by hedge fund billionaires, the Walton family and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation so those few individuals grow wealthier off taxes that were originally intended to support the transparent, nonprofit, democratic public schools.

How much does the state and federal government give away to corporations? The answer is more than the country spends on food stamps for people living in poverty, who are far from being lazy, because Recent studies show that 49% of all food stamp participants are children (age 18 or younger), and about 50% of the adults have jobs that pay mostly poverty wages, and, in 2013, for instance, the average SNAP client received a monthly benefit of $133.07, and the average household received $274.98 monthly—compare that number with the money corporations are getting from their state and federal welfare programs.

The New York Times spent 10 months investigating business incentives awarded by hundreds of cities, counties and states. Since there is no nationwide accounting of these incentives, The Times put together a database and found that local governments give up $80.4 billion in incentives given away each year compared to about $75 billion in food stamps to people who live in poverty, so they have enough money to eat and not starve.

Don’t forget, when the GOP blames the poor for their poverty and cuts food stamps to families, as Arkansas is doing, the GOP is waging a war against almost 20 million children living in poverty who can’t work to feed themselves.

However, according to The Times, the number of corporate welfare programs is 1,874. Have you heard Republicans or Democrats call for cuts to corporate welfare?

You might want to click on this link from the New York Times that leads to an interactive map and discover how much corporations are earning off federal and state welfare programs that tax payers are financing.

The New York Times identified 48 companies that have received more than $100 million in state grants since 2007. Some 5,000 other companies have received more than $1 million in recent years.

In fact, reports that it’s mostly true that 9 of the 10 poorest states are ruled by the GOP. also reports that it is mostly true that 97 of the country’s 100 poorest counties are in GOP ruled states.

The Washington Post reports, “Republican states have pursued economic and fiscal strategies built around lower taxes, deeper spending cuts and less regulation. They have declined to set up state health-insurance exchanges to implement President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. They have clashed with labor unions. On social issues, they have moved to restrict abortion rights or to enact voter-identification laws, in the name of ballot integrity, that critics say hamper access to voting for the poor and minorities.”

The cultural revolution in China that took place between 1965–1976, and the one being waged in the United States today have one thing in common: the public schools and the teachers who taught in them were attacked in China back then (but not today—after Mao died in 1976, China, under new leadership, started rebuilding its public schools and supporting its teachers) as they are being attacked in the United States today, because a transparent, non-profit, public education system where teachers have the freedom to express without fear what they think about current issues to the children they teach, who then talk to their parents, is a threat to the few who want to control the destructive cultural changes taking place, and it doesn’t matter if the cultural war is being led, for instance, by America’s Bill Gates, the Walton family, the Koch brothers or Mao Zedong in China. To drastically alter a culture, the few in power who are behind the changes must silence their critics and create an environment of punishment and fear, and this means silencing the teachers.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

2015 Promotion Image for My Splendid Concubine

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What is it about the Asian Culture?

January 14, 2015

On Tuesday January 13, I briefly mentioned the 6th Annual Asian Heritage Street Celebration that took place in San Francisco on May 15, 2010. This post continues with that event.

There were Chinese, Thai, Tibetans—and even the Falun Gong (using another name to disguise who they were)—a free Burma booth, and booths for Dragon Boat Races, and the Lion Dance.

I was there with President Margie Yee Webb of the Sacramento branch of the California Writers Club (CWC), Frances Kakugawa, and Teresa LeYung Ryan. That year, the CWC’s booth was in front of the San Francisco library.

Authors Frances Kakugawa and Teresa LyYung Ryan at the CWC booth

It’s estimated that 100,000 people attends this street celebration each year.

Many people stopped by our booth to talk about China and/or buy books. By noon, I went for a walk toward Little Saigon. Booths lined the street for blocks. It was obvious from what I saw that all of Asia’s cultures have been influenced by China one way or another.

Lion Dance booth

California Dragon Boat Races

The Chinese believe in lucky symbols and bamboo plays a part in that belief.  China was the super power in Asia for more than two thousand years. At one booth, I stopped to take a few photos of a Chinese band playing traditional Asian music.  All the instruments I’ve written on this Blog about were there.

The silk trade started in China and there was a booth with a woman creating tapestries from silk thread.

Even the Glamour and Grace of Miss Chinatown USA was represented.

It was a long and rewarding day that went by too fast, but it was a harmonious day.

Lloyd Lofthouse (me)

When I was still teaching (1975-2005), I learned that by the third generation, the children of most immigrants are assimilated by American culture.

If that is true, why is it that Asians—as an ethnic group—have the lowest incidence of STDs, the lowest unemployment rate, the lowest incidence of drug use and the lowest incidence of teen pregnancy?

In fact, American Asians, including Chinese, tend to graduate from high school with higher GPAs and complete college at rates more than any ethnic group—including White—in the United States. For instance, the Institute of Education Sciences reports that in 2011-12, 93% of Asian/Pacific Islanders; 85% of Whites; 76% of Hispanics and 68% of Blacks, graduated from high school on time.

In addition. The U.S. Census reports that 48.3% of Asian-Americans have earned a Bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 29.7% for Whites, 16.3% for Blacks and 13.5% of Latinos.

Why is education more important to Asian Americans than the other ethnic groups? When I say important, I support that claim by the graduation rates and not by what someone might say. Saying an education is important to you and then you don’t graduate, reveals the truth.

I think the answer is simple, and I’ve talked about this before in other posts—the collective family culture with a strong belief in the importance of education and respect for teachers and elders, and the public schools where I taught for thirty years had a small percentage of Asian students. Most of them always earned higher grades and were concerned about any grade lower than an A. Even an A- minus might worry some Asian-American students. I also seldom had behavior problems from the Asian-American students I taught in the same classes where every racial group was represented.

Opening Ceremony of the 2014 San Francisco Asian Heritage Street Celebration


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010” Awards


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Harlequin comes to China wielding Butterfly Swords

December 9, 2014

A review of Jeannie Lin’s Butterfly Swords
Guest Post by Tom Carter

Enter Jeannie Lin, Harlequin’s rising red-star of romance writing.  She isn’t the first author on Harlequin’s roster to set her books in China (that honor goes to Jade Lee and her infinite “Tigress” series).

However, Lin’s debut novel, Butterfly Swords, has been attracting a viral buzz louder than a summertime cicada not just for being the first Harlequin novel to NOT feature a man on the cover, but for using an Asian model as the cover girl, another Harlequin first.

The star of Butterfly Swords is a Chinese woman, yes.  But to give American readers something that they can relate to, the male love interest of Lin’s novel is not Chinese but a wandering whiteboy from the west.

Ryam is drifting around the Tang (618-906 AD) empire begging for food (this sounds exactly like my own travels across China!) when he spots a disguised female being attacked by a pack of marauding bandits.

The swordsman, who evokes images of bare-chested, fur underwear-wearing Thundarr the Barbarian from the eponymous 80’s cartoon, rescues her, then agrees to escort her home.

Little does Ryam know that young Ai Li is really a princess on the run from an arranged marriage to a dastardly warlord.  The two proceed on their journey together across the 7th-century frontier, getting in adventures and slowly but surely falling in love.

Pitting strength, courage and her fabulous butterfly swords against the forces of evil, Ai Li proves herself in the battlefield (“With Ai Li’s swords and determined spirit it was easy to forget that she was innocent”).

However, where the book has significant cultural crossover appeal is in author Jeannie Lin’s ability to keenly capture the multi-dimensional perspectives of both characters throughout their budding interracial relationship.

From Ryam’s course communicative abilities (“Where did you learn how to speak Chinese” Ai Li asks him, laughing. “You sound like you were taught in a brothel”) to his struggles with his inner-white demons as a big, bad bai gui (“It was so much easier to seduce a woman than talk to her”), the reader is introduced not to some empty-headed he-man but a complex male of the species who is genuinely torn between his biological needs and respecting Ai Li’s virtue.

“I don’t understand what she’s talking about half the time,” Ryam grumbles to himself. “Everything is about honor and duty.”  Surely even expats living in present-day P.R.C. can relate to this dilemma.

Ai Li, meanwhile, finds herself attracted not only to Ryam’s “musky scent” and “sleek muscles” (Harlequin prerequisites; don’t blame the authoress), but his sincerity (“There was nothing barbaric about him. His manner was direct and honest. It was her own countrymen she needed to be worried about.”).

The protagonist does find herself frustrated with “this swordsman with blue eyes and the storm of emotions that came with him,” but, true to life, Ai Li comes with her own personality flaws as well (“she was being irrational and she knew it”).

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Harlequin without passionate love scenes, something my fiancée missed in the heavily censored Chinese versions.

This Jeannie Lin does in the poetic prose of a Tang Dynasty-era pillow book yet with just enough creatively-provocative language to keep sex-numbed westerners interested (“Ryam slipped his fingers into her silken, heated flesh…her body went liquid and damp in welcome.”).  And thankfully without ever once resorting to the word “loin.”

Ryam proves himself to be an ideal lover for nubile Ai Li, “rough enough to make her breath catch, gentle enough to have her opening her knees,” though one can’t help but wonder how these two nomadic warriors can go so long without bathing nor brushing their teeth yet still manage to say things like “her mouth tasted just as sweet as he remembered.”

If only real life were as hygienic as a Harlequin novel.

One of the reasons why Harlequin is able to sell over 100 million units per year (the most profitable publishing company in the industry) is because every book is part of a series.

There are no individual Harlequin titles, which brilliantly leaves the reader yearning for more from the characters they have literally become so intimate with.  In this respect, Butterfly Swords concludes with a wide opening that screams sequel, but thankfully lacks the typical Harlequin-happy ending of matrimonial bliss.

One familiar with Chinese culture can’t help but wonder, then, what kind of future Ai Li and Ryam actually have together: in reality, Ai Li would put on weight, cut her hair short and become a shrill nag; her parents and grandparents would all move into their cramped apartment, and a frustrated Ryam, now with beer-belly, would spend more and more time at card games and with karaoke parlor hostesses than at home.

But before the infuriating realties of interracial marriage set in, we hope Jeannie Lin has at least a few more of her trademark sword fights and steamy sensuality in store.


Travel Photographer Tom Carter traveled for 2 years across the 33 provinces of China to show the diversity of Chinese people in  China: Portrait of a People, the most comprehensive photography book on modern China published by a single author.

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Who eats Turkey in China on America’s Thanksgiving Day?

November 27, 2014

Turkey is a fowl the Chinese seldom eat. However, eating duck and chicken is common. Duck is even considered a delicacy. In fact, the Unvegan says, “No trip to Beijing is complete without eating some Peking Duck.”

Since I am a vegan, I didn’t eat Peking Duck, but I watched my wife eat it at Quan Ju De (Peking Duck) in Beijing.

The Virtual Tourist says, “It is thought that Beijing roast duck, like the tradition of roast turkey in America and the UK, owes its origin to the roast goose that is still popular in Europe on festive occasions.”

Most Americans do not celebrate the Chinese New Year (the Spring Festival) and most Chinese do not celebrate Thanksgiving. After all, Thanksgiving is an American holiday that Canadians celebrate too but on the second Monday in October.

Thanksgiving in Beijing with Peking Duck says, “From 2001 to 2005, China imported 486,000 tons of turkey, with all of the whole turkeys and 90 percent of Turkey parts coming from the US…. Currently, 70 to 80 percent of the consumers are Westerners.”

I’m assuming that Westerners eating turkey in China are there working, as tourists or are expatriates living in the Middle Kingdom and can’t do without turkey on Thanksgiving in October or November.

If you are from North America in China during Thanksgiving, you have a choice between Peking Duck, which is easy to find, and turkey.

Go China says, “Just head to your local international grocery store (Jenny Lu’s in Beijing, Cityshop in Shanghai) and stock up on all the fixings: frozen Butterball turkeys, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie makings. But you better do it fast, there tends to be a run on these items so if you’re shopping on the last Thursday in November, you’ll be out of luck.”

And maybe I should have posted this before Thanksgiving day.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.


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